Dynasty Warriors is a strange series. Each game in the series is essentially a retelling of the same story, The Romance of Three Kingdoms. There are of course historical ties for this Chinese novel dramatizing the 2nd and 3rd century era following the fall of the Han Dynasty in China but overall Dynasty Warriors is a loose interpretation of a novel that is a loose interpretation of history. Starting with Dynasty Warriors 3, a Xtreme Legends expansion pack would follow with additional characters and features. Dynasty Warriors 8 is no different as Omega Force loads up the game with a quite a bit of new content such as a whole new campaign for the villainous Lu Bu, a challenge mode, a new difficulty, an extended Ambition mode, five new character to play, and a few gameplay tweaks.
Lu Bu’s new campaign is a bit shorter than the campaigns for the main kingdoms with its focus on the singular antagonist. Historically, Lu Bu was a bit of a paranoid bad ass that met a very gruesome end and the campaign allows players to follow that path but there are also some more what if-ish styled stages that branch off the main campaign. New chapters are added to the existing storylines from the base game of Dynasty Warriors 8 for several other characters adding around 8-10 hours of additional campaign time when combined with the Lu Bu campaign to an already lengthy game.
The 5 new characters are spread out among the 3 kingdoms and Lu Bu’s faction bringing the total playable characters in Dynasty Warriors 8 to 82. Past games have suffered from a bit of a clone issue but there is an obvious effort to make sure every fighter is a bit different in their move set and weapons.
Shu gets Fa Zheng which is unique in the fact that he can teleport around in combat thanks to a big of magical woven cloth as his default weapon. Fa Zheng utilizes the cloth to slam airborne targets and perform a whirlwind like aoe attack. The Wu faction adds Zhu Ran to their ranks along with his flaming bow. Zhu Ran’s attacks center around launching flaming arrows which is both challenging and satisfying. Yu Jin brings his war trident to the Wei and is more a traditional character in terms of his attacks. Lu Bu gets Chen Gong and Lu Bu’s historically unnamed daughter Lu Lingqi. Lu Lingqi utilizes the crossed pike launching wind based attacks. Chen Gong is a more interesting character with his art of war scroll that summons soldiers to do his bidding bringing a new mechanic to the polished combat of the series.
Challenge mode makes a return to the series by offering a couple of mini game-ish challenges with online leaderboards. Bridge Melee has characters bouncing around narrow bridges knocking enemies off for points. Speed Run is a bit of a time trial as the name suggests. Arena is essentially a boss rush mode. Rampage and Inferno focus on most kills within a time limit while the latter includes lots of fiery explosions. Challenge mode features a lot of interesting rule twists as a nice distraction from the more tedious parts of the main game.
Ambition mode was introduced in Dynasty Warriors 8 as somewhat of a city building game where random skirmish, raid, and large scale battles give the player resources to expand and better build a tower for Emperor Xian to visit. Xtreme Legends expands Ambition by tacking on a strategy element after the initial mode is finished. Players enter Conquest that tasks them with capturing territory with quick battles centered around attack and defense of bases while commanding troops. For those that played Dynasty Warriors: Empires, it has a strong Empires-Lite feel to it while it is not as in depth, it is still extremely enjoyable.
Several small gameplay tweaks and systems have been added that in turn make Dynasty Warriors 8 a much better game. Old characters get a boost with an additional EX attack. Six-star weapons are added as rewards for secret objectives. These weapons while strong are weaker than the weapons fused in the new Weapon Fusion system borrowed from the Warriors Orochi series. Weapon Fusion allows effects to be transferred onto other weapons with resources grinded in the Ambition mode slowly building the ultimate game breaking weapons. Another change is that high leadership level will now allow characters to summon up to 3 bodyguards in Ambition and Free Battle mode.
A new level cap of 150 allows players to build stronger characters with the Ultimate difficulty added to balance that cap. Ultimate though is a bit too brutal with spikes of unfairness coming from things like archers turning the player into swiss cheese way too easily. The previously hardest difficulty, Chaos, becomes a lot more playable though.